Buying a mattress can be an overwhelming process. There are numerous types of mattresses with many different features and construction. There are also an abundance of brands and retailers both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. But even when you’ve decided what kind of mattress to buy, you might ask yourself: am I paying the right price?
With so many choices on the market, it can be hard to know that you’re getting the best value for your mattress-buying dollar. In this guide, we’ll offer some important background about purchasing a mattress and specific tips to help you in this process. We’ll cover key topics such as common misconceptions about mattress pricing, mattress sales and discounts, the benefits of buying online or in a store, and links to resources that can help you comfortably sleep at night while knowing you got the right deal.
Mattress Sales and Discounts
When you first start shopping for a mattress, pricing can be dizzyingly complex. You may also experience sticker shock when you come across high-end or luxury mattresses.
As with most consumer goods, the price of a mattress starts with its cost of materials and labor to manufacture. Costs for shipping and support are a part of this equation as well. If the mattress is sold through a retailer, that retailer’s costs and markup are also added to the price. Markups in this industry can be significant because of the low volume of sales per consumer. Most people only buy a new mattress every 5-10 years, so mattress companies have an incentive to try to earn large profits on each individual sale. This equates to listed retail prices that are wildly inflated on many mattresses, especially those sold in stores.
It doesn’t take much research to discover that there are a bevy of brands, types of mattresses, product lines, retailers, add-on features, sales, and coupons. All of these factors often make it difficult to comparison shop and to feel comfortable with the asking price.
To help sort through the confusion, here are some tips to counteract many of the most common misconceptions about mattress pricing:
- Don’t use price to judge quality. We’re all susceptible to thinking that a high-priced product costs more because it’s better, but with mattresses, this is often misleading. There are a number of excellent mattresses available without breaking the bank. Don’t use price to determine the quality of the design, materials, and workmanship: evaluate those factors themselves, independent of price.
- Be wary of the “sale” price. You’ve probably noticed that mattresses seem to constantly be on sale. Because of high list prices, it’s common to see huge advertised price reductions, often up to 50%, especially in brick-and-mortar stores. Take these “sales” with a grain of salt as virtually no one ever pays full price for these mattresses. Be especially wary if the sale price is being used as a “one-time offer” to try to compel you to buy a mattress on the spot.
- Know when the biggest sales usually happen. Prime time for mattress sales is usually around holidays like Labor Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day. During these times, mattresses may be marked down more than normal, and often there is still room to negotiation. Some stores may also have sales early in the year to clean out the prior year’s inventory, especially if new models are being produced.
- Negotiate. Negotiating is normal in the mattress business, so don’t feel uncomfortable haggling. For many mattress brands, there are significant savings to be had by negotiating your price. Often a salesperson will honor a sale price even after a sale has ended. In addition, many stores have price match guarantees, so definitely demand a lower price for a comparable mattress if you’ve seen it cheaper online or in another store. While some brands may not have as much wiggle room on price, you can always ask the salesperson to sweeten the deal in another way such as including a discounted bed frame or box spring, free sheets or pillows, and/or free delivery plus removal of your old mattress. If the salesperson can’t offer you a deal, you can always ask to negotiate with the manager.
Another strategy that can pay off in getting the best price for a mattress is by comparison shopping. There are many mattresses with similar qualities that are marketed under different brands or models, and for some people, this causes them to give up on comparison shopping. However, with some research and strategy, you can work around this challenge. The best way to do this is by focusing on the specific features of a mattress. If you find a mattress you like and want to comparison shop, ask for the technical specifications of the mattress including its height, composition, layering, etc. Then you can look for mattresses with the same specifications at another store or online. In some cases, you’ll find the same mattress marketed as a different model by the same brand. You may also find that what seemed like a “sale” isn’t actually a good value. You can use this information to negotiate for a better price or to make an apples-to-apples comparison that lets you choose the best price for a mattress with those defining features.
What Should I Pay for a Mattress?
How much you should pay for a mattress depends on your specific needs and the features that are most important to you. If you want specialty materials or unique design features, you’ll have fewer options to choose from and should expect to pay more. For most people looking for a straightforward yet high-quality mattress, though, there are excellent values available both online and in stores.
In general, you should be able to buy a great queen mattress that will last at least 7-8 years for between $700 and $1000. If this is too much for your budget, you’ll still have plenty of options, but be aware that they typically involve sacrificing an important element — support or durability or customer service.
Certain types of mattresses will almost always fall outside of this range. For example, natural latex mattresses will rarely cost less than $1000. This is because natural latex is expensive to produce and manufacture into the mattress. If the natural latex is also organic, expect the price to be even higher. Airbeds are another example of mattresses that are typically more than $1000. Because of their complex construction and operation, it is rare to see quality airbeds within the $700-$1000 price point.
It’s important to remember to factor in the “all-in” cost of your new mattress, which includes the cost of shipping or delivery. If you have an old mattress, you may need to account for the cost of having it picked up. If you have a sleep trial to try out your new mattress, make sure to know if there are any costs associated with returning the mattress. Knowing the details on these secondary costs can help ensure that you don’t get surprised by hidden fees after you’ve already completed your initial purchase.
Brick and Mortar vs. Online
One of the first choices to make when you decide to get a new mattress is where you want to buy it. In the past, brick-and-mortar stores were the only game in town. Now, though, there are abundant options for buying online. There are pros and cons of buying in stores and online, and this guide can help you get the best price wherever you go.
Buying a mattress in a brick-and-mortar store is the traditional approach. Many retailers sell mattresses including national mattress chains, specialty mattress shops, furniture stores, and department stores. The more focused a store is on mattresses, the more likely it is that they will have a wide selection of options. In addition, a mattress-focused store often will have employees who are more experienced in helping customers find the most appropriate mattress. If you need a salesperson to walk you through the process of selecting a mattress, then a shop that focuses on beds may be your best bet. But if you’ve already read our Mattress Buying Guide and know what you need, then you can explore a broader range of brick-and-mortar stores to find the best deal.
One benefit of a brick-and-mortar store is that you can see and try the mattress in person. This can help you get a better sense of the firmness and support levels. Keep in mind, though, that a brief test of a mattress in the store is usually not a good approximation for how comfortable it will be to actually sleep on that mattress overnight.
A challenge for buying at a brick-and-mortar location is that most stores do not carry identical mattress brands and product lines. A nearly-identical mattress may have one product title in one store and a different one in another. This can frustrate people who want to comparison shop, but if you focus on the key features of the mattress rather than its product name, you can much more easily survey the offered prices at different stores.
Brick-and-mortar mattress salespeople have a reputation for aggressively pushing sales. While this can be an unfair stereotype, it is true that their compensation usually depends on closing sales. No matter how pushy a salesperson may seem, though, remember that you hold the cards. Here are some specific tips to help.
- Don’t buy from someone you don’t trust. With so many options — both brick-and-mortar and online — don’t feel compelled to work with a salesperson who makes you uncomfortable. You’re counting on them to share key information with you — about construction, firmness, warranties, etc. — to help you make a decision. If you can’t rely on that person’s credibility in providing that information, don’t buy from them.
- Separate your research visit from your buying visit. Set a firm rule that you won’t buy a mattress the first time you go into the store. If you know that your first visit is just for research and that you won’t be buying anything that day, it removes the pressure that a salesperson can apply. This also ensures that you’ll have an opportunity to comparison shop. While this requires an extra shopping trip, it will likely pay off in terms of price and your satisfaction with your purchase.
- Ask about price matching and negotiate. There is almost always room to negotiate. There may be discounts available from the store or from the manufacturer, and many stores offer price match programs. If they offer a price match, bring in the information that shows the lower price in another store or online. Be persistent if they try to avoid the price match simply because the mattress has a slightly different name at another store.
- Be prepared to walk away. This is one of the most powerful tools that you have as a customer. Because you have so many places where you can buy a mattress, the salesperson needs you more than you need them. Use this power to your advantage, and if the deal isn’t right, walk away.
Buying a mattress online is a very different experience from buying in a store. Because you can’t physically try out the mattress, it’s important to focus on the mattress specifications and to be informed about sleep trials and returns. Our guide, How to Buy a Mattress Online, covers these topics in detail, but here we’ll provide a few tips for your online mattress shopping.
- Know what’s inside. When buying a mattress online, it is essential to look at the specifications of the mattress. This includes not just the type of mattress but also its materials, construction, and layering. Be skeptical of any online mattress that doesn’t have these details readily available.
- Take advantage of a sleep trial. Many online mattress sellers offer a sleep trial that allows you to test out the mattress in your own home. The length of sleep trials typically ranges from 30 to 120 days, and this can give you plenty of time to determine if a mattress is right for you. We recommend only buying a mattress online if a sleep trial is included in the price. Don’t forget to look at the fine print, though, and know in advance if there are any costs (such as for pickup or return shipping) if you decide not to keep the mattress.
- Find a coupon. You can help save on your purchase by finding a promotional code or coupon code for your new mattress. Often, you can find these codes posted directly by the mattress seller on their website or on their social media accounts. You can also find coupons from a number of third party review sites, which get bonuses for referring customers. In many cases, coupons like this can help you save around 10%.
Given the amount of time that you’ll spend on your mattress, it makes sense to want to make the best purchase that you can. Yet it is natural to feel intimidated by the complexity of mattress options, by the different places where you can buy them, and by the huge spread of listed prices.
Thankfully, you can cut through the fog and focus on the most important strategies used by savvy shoppers. When it comes to buying a mattress, information is power, and the tips we’ve shared can help you get the best value regardless of where you go to buy your mattress.
If you have further questions beyond what’s covered in this guide, we invite you to Contact Us for more specific information or recommendations.
We feature a number of other resources that can help you become a savvy mattress shopper. Check out these resources using the links below: